40% of Australian jobs could disappear in next 10-15 years

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More than five million Australian jobs that exist today have a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years, according to a report being released today.

The report, Australia’s Future Workforce by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) does not claim we are about to see a catastrophic increase in unemployment. Rather, it says the world is on the cusp of a new but very different industrial revolution which we need to plan for.

CEDA Chief Executive Professor the Hon. Stephen Martin, who will release the report, said NICTA researchers have examined the probability of job losses due to computerisation and automation in Australia and in each local government area (including Sydney and Melbourne) across the country.

“This research shows that in some parts of rural and regional Australia in particular there is a high likelihood of job losses being over 60 per cent,” he said.

According to Martin, automation will not only affect industries like agriculture, mining and manufacturing but also areas that have not yet been affected, like health.

“Creating a culture of innovation must be driven by the private sector, educational institutions and government. However, government must lead the way with clear and detailed education, innovation and technology policies that are funded adequately,” he said.

Martin noted that government funding of education and innovation initiatives falls well below many other countries.

“For example the five Industry Growth Centres announced last year by the Federal Government should be critical in driving innovation but only $190 million has been allocated over four years,” he said.

“In comparison, the UK Catapult Centres, which they are based on, have been allocated almost $3 billion over the same period.”

He also said we needs to look at how it reskills workers. Comparing Australia with Denmark, he said we do badly.

 “The Danish approach is three pronged – greater flexibility around hiring and firing, generous unemployment benefits and substantial programs to help unemployed people gain new skills. Often these programs start before a person is even retrenched,” he said.

“The Danish policy while more expensive initially, makes long-term economic sense because it ensures people return to the workforce more quickly and with the skills the economy needs.”